The Table Manners of Jesus

The table is very central to the life and ministry of Jesus.  That’s right, the table; the dining room table that many of us sit and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 Of course we understand that the table where Jesus broke bread and shared the wine is central to the ministry of Jesus.  Each of the four gospels recalls the time when Jesus, preparing for his death, called his disciples together and shared the bread and wine, telling them, in the words of the apostle Paul, “Whenever you do this do this in remembrance of me.”  This however is not the first time that Jesus was around the table.

Throughout the life of Jesus we often find him around the table and sometimes what we also find is that Jesus has very strange table manners.  In Luke 7:36-50 we have Jesus in the home of Simon, a Pharisee.  As they were reclining at the table a woman who lived a sinful life came in and began to anoint him with oil and tears as she dried the feet of Jesus with her hair.  Simon is beside himself because if Jesus knew what type of woman she was, he would never allow her to do this.  Jesus uses this time to begin to teach Simon about what it means to forgive, to accept and to be hospitable, but as we see, Jesus does this with horrible table manners.

 When we are invited to the home and are seated around the dinner table we would do nothing to offend the host for this would be disgraceful.  But Jesus doesn’t mind and so we find that he rebukes Simon and says that he loves little because he has been forgiven little.  Imagine the nerve of someone offending the host.  Yet in offending the host we discover Jesus begins to teach us about hospitality, acceptance and forgiveness.

When we gather as a church and around the table what are we teaching?  Who is welcome around the table of our churches?  Is our table teaching anything about acceptance, hospitality and forgiveness?  When the church gathers around the table can we do or say anything that will remind us we are called to accept, be hospitable and to forgive? 

What would happen if when we gather for the table the first words that are spoken would be, “If you are struggling with alcohol, pornography or greed, welcome to the table for the table is where we meet Jesus and the table is where we as a church welcome you to experience acceptance and forgiveness in the name of Jesus.”

Maybe it is time that our table manners were transformed so that when we gather around the table our churches will show acceptance, hospitality and forgiveness.

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Published in: on November 24, 2006 at 7:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

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